The overnight get-away to Semliki Safari Lodge was . . . .words can not express. The place is an oasis of beauty, both the wildness of nature and the order of a luxurious manicured lodge. We were guests of the managers, along with a photographer and his wife who were shooting reams of photos for publicity, and a travel agent checking the park out. Amazingly the photographer’s other job is a full time doctor at the Infectious Disease Institute in Kampala, dealing with AIDS, and his wife started the very successful Beads for Life project which creatively enables the poorest of the poor to start their own businesses. They were a delightful surprise and I hope friends we can keep up with. We always enjoy the manager couple as well, so it was a nice mix of much-needed down time for us as a couple, and of good company, fine wine, gourmet food, peace and quiet.
But as we drove back through the slick mud, leaving the cheerful ambiance of the SSL behind, I felt like we were emerging from story-book Africa back into real Africa. The cavorting kob were replaced by crowds of kids, rusted bicycles, overloaded pick-ups, soldiers and guns. And as soon as we walked into the door we began to get some hard news. None as hard as this past week’s news about Chase, but still not what we hoped for.
First, my mom can’t visit for Christmas as planned. Her back surgery was too extensive and her recovery will not be complete by that time. This was a big blow to all of us. It is still sinking in how much of the next couple of months of life were revolving around that expectation. We are all grateful she was able to have the surgery, it was much needed, but the loss of the anticipated trip is hard.
Then Ndyezika walked in with his exam results. The good news is that he passed more things than last year, and does not have to repeat any classes. The bad news is that he has to re-take 2 of the 5 exams, either later this month or in February. He’s a relentlessly optimistic guy, but even he was pretty sad, commenting that he had hoped just this once God would bring him all the way through, but in his life it never seems to happen that way. It was hard for me to accept as well. More uncertainty, more waiting, another potential failure looms ahead. The same day we got a letter from his fiancée's family expressing their willingness to enter negotiations, and detailing a long list of expenses that will be associated with her bride price. Now we have to choose our “mukwenda”, the go-between who will negotiate for us. It is good news that they are willing but we know it will be weeks or months of financially draining expectations to meet. And we will have to walk carefully between our role as his guardians who are wealthier than he could ever be . . .and raising the bar so high for a church wedding that everyone else continues eloping.
Those are the two big disappointments, but it’s also continuously raining, a very demanding patient showed up early this morning, the power is shutting off the internet, I got news that my sister’s car was stolen (along with all their credit cards, house keys), and the week ahead looks like a long vale of tears as we say goodbye to Scotticus, Amy, and the Grays. The tomb is definitely empty, and it feels like the body was stolen . . . We need prayer as a team in the midst of November clouds to hear the voice of Jesus, putting it all into perspective, that though things are not unfolding according to our hopes and expectations our God is still in control.